Culture, Health & Environment, Politics

Why America is Losing the War on Drug Addiction

Following the spectacular failure of the War on Drugs, the prevailing ideology in the addiction treatment world became “harm reduction”. Harm reduction aims to respect the rights and dignity of drug addicts by destigmatising their drug use; to minimise the social harms that accompany drug addiction such as crime, incarceration and discrimination; to save lives by providing safeguards against overdoses; and to offer detoxification but not to require it as a condition for social services and subsidies. The motto of harm reduction is “meeting people where they’re at”, rather than compelling abstinence as a one-size-fits-all-solution…

Drug addiction itself is coercive. Giving an addict the “choice” to continue to use or to voluntarily get clean is as illusory as pushing someone off a roof and giving them the choice to either fall or fly. The current approach in cities such as San Francisco, Officer Lande said, “assumes people exercise full voluntary volition over their behaviour, and they don’t”. The decision to get clean has to be as non-optional as an addict’s “choice” to continue using. It has to be forced.

That doesn’t have to mean jail — in fact, it shouldn’t. Ginny was incarcerated repeatedly, but she finally got clean not through the criminal justice system but through her diversion to drug court and mandated rehabilitation. Nevertheless, coercion was an indispensable element in that successful intervention. The certainty of consequences is what finally broke through the fog of addiction. Read more…

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